Horrible, But It Was Just a Mistake! Really!!
I finalized the weekly report, ready to be sent to my manager and some relevant officials. It was the last item of my day's agenda. I reviewed it. I had joined this footwear manufacturing company just a month ago as Assistant Manager Sales (it was around 20 years back). The report was a pack of complaints, mentioning the weak performances, lagging behind schedules, financial problems, and so on. Preparation and dispatching of this report was my responsibility.
After checking and counter-checking the report, I instructed my assistant to call our courier company's rep to dispatch the report to those relevant officials who were stationed at other locations (Emailing was not common those days). My assistant prepared the routine list of the recipients of the report, separating those whose mail would be delivered through the courier company. I checked the list. After carefully reviewing the mail list, I signed it. The rep came in and collected the envelops. That's all. The day's work was over. In a very relaxed mood, I took the original report and left it on my boss's table. He was out of the city and was coming next morning.
Next morning, my boss called me to discuss issues mentioned in my report. It was a normal and routine meeting. After two days of the submission of the report, One morning, I entered my office and just seated when my office telephone rang. I picked up the receiver. The operator informed me that personal secretary to the Chairman wanted to talk to me. I was bewildered, why PS to the chairman wants to talk to me? I said, "OK, get me through!" A heavy and flat voice asked me, "Mr. Qamar?" I said, "Yes please!"
"Chairman wants to see you tomorrow, sharp at 11:30 a.m. at the head office, Karachi."
I was stunned hearing that. Why the chairman wants to see me? I was just a junior management guy, like dozens others in this huge organization. In a bit shivering voice, I asked,
"Mr. Secretary, May I know why the chairman has called me?"
"Well, I think it's something about a report you have just sent to him."
"Report? What report? How can I send a report to the chairman? I was nearly to scream.
He said, " Tomorrow, at 11:30 a.m. sharp" and clicked off the phone.
The receiver of the phone was still in my hand for so many minutes. Then my senses came to life. I asked my assistant to provide me the list of the previous day's report recipients. He put it on my table. I carefully went through it......And stop! Here is the chairman's name in the list! What the hell his name and address are doing in this list? How could it.....I stared at my assistant and asked in an admonishing tone " How did this name get in the list?" He said, "Sorry, it was just a mistake."
"Mistake? You have almost ruined my career and you say it was a mistake?"
He said gently, "But sir, you had checked and verified the list. Here are your signatures."
I had to admit that it was my mistake. It was a blunder, an absolute blunder. But just after one month in employment and the pain of unemployment, I was not ready for that at all. I went to my boss and stated the situation. My boss stunned frozen as he heard and stared at me in an unbelievable way. "You sent the copy to the chairman and he has called you?" His voice was life-less. " What the hell have you done? How could you do that? He shouted. "You have not only finished yourself but destroyed me as well. You know what that report was? That was a clear proof of our dirty performance. Why has he called you? Why not me to warn you? Something very very bad is going to happen. Oh God! Now please go and prepare for the journey. I am searching for another job."
I came out of his room in dismay; broken, disappointed. I called a couple of my friends, telling them to find an employment for me on urgent basis. They were astonished, asking the reason. I told them I will describe everything to them later on, but please do it what I requested. I reached my home, called an airline's office and booked a seat on the tomorrow's early morning flight. The night was very heavy. I was preparing myself as how to face the chairman and how to answer his questions. The entire night spent in this brain war.
Next day, I took the flight and reached Karachi. Well before 11:30 a.m., I was in the head office, In the office of PS to Chairman. His sympathetic eyes were quite disturbing me. We talked nothing about the report. At 11:30, he informed the chairman about my arrival, and escorted me to the elegant room of the chairman. Truly speaking, I had never seen such a cold and feeling-less face. I was already shattered, and by looking at his face, the tiniest remaining part of my confidence vanished in air. He pointed towards a chair, "Please!" and I seated.
He was holding a paper in his hand. "Mr. Qamar! Have you prepared this report?" "Yes sir" I replied in a shivering voice, though I was trying to control my shivering. "Hmmm, Quite disturbing situation at your department, isn't it?" "Yes sir, but we are doing our best to overcome it." The chairman gazed at me for a while. I was sweating though the room temperature was pleasant.
"Mr. Qamar! What is in your mind to fix the situation in your department?" I was taken by surprise hearing this question. I said, "Sir, our department is managing a very vast geographical area. We are short of resources. In my opinion, if we divide this geographical area into two and have an additional sales office, then the problem could better be dealt with."
"Mr. Qamar! How long have you been with this organization?" Chairman asked. "About a month sir!" I replied. "Okay, How is your manager doing?" He asked. "Sir, he is a very professional and kind person." I replied. He nodded. Then he opened a file and said, "Well Mr. Qamar, I have your personal file and I have checked every detail about you. Your prepared report shows your deep involvement in your job and your care abut the organization, despite of the fact that you are only one month old here. I wanted to meet you personally to know you and your thinking. I am very happy to meet you, and more happy about your positive thinking for your boss."
It was not a surprise...It was an electric shock, jolting my brain and body. This shock got more intense when the chairman continued, "Your suggestion to develop another sales office is very realistic and practical. Actually, your CEO has already forwarded this suggestion to the board. In fact, we showed a bit of laziness to decide the issue. I know you sent me this report erroneously, but it geared me up to decide to establish another sales office in your area immediately. Now, go to your office and directly send me, within two days, a report as how this office would be established. By the way, you will establish the office under your own supervision and will be managing it. You are promoted as Area Manager from the day you joined this organization. If it's not bothering, you would assist the company's marketing department as Assistant Marketing Manager as well. You will get the notification, a company maintained car, and other facilities within a couple of days."
Can you imagine what were my feelings and emotions at that time? No, you cannot! because my emotions and feelings were gone somewhere else. My mind was blank. My heart forgot it's rhythm. The situation was a complete opposite to what I thought. I thanked him in a shrilling voice. He rose up and shook hands with me. For the first time, I saw a trace of smile on his face, or at least, I felt like that. "Young man, keep it up, and tell your manager he is doing very well." He said when I was just leaving.
Then came the day when I established that sales office. Within one year, the office produced 5 times more sales in the designated area. It was a great success. I spent more than 3 years at that area office, and when I left, our sales were 3 times more than the first year's. An inadvertent mistake, a serious one though, proved to be my #BestMistake.
When you do, deliver, or say anything, think and assess it again and again to eliminate any chance of mistake. When you are sure it's free of any error, do it. But after doing it, when you find a mistake or error, it's absolutely inadvertent. Don't take it as a point of tension. This inadvertent mistake might be included by your destiny, to bestow upon you something better. Sometimes, a mistake opens the door of an opportunity. Something good for you might be hidden in your mistake, some blessings in disguise. Secondly, mistakes show you are learning. If you stop doing mistakes, you stop learning., and stopping learning is death.
Do you agree mistakes sometimes bring opportunities? What is your experience? Do you remember your such a mistake? Please share your opinion.
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